The Stick and the Carrot

Now that I am less mobile with age, I watch a fair amount of television. Since I have never been interested in or addicted to soaps, I have turned more and more to history, to ‘Yesterday’ and other programmes of that type. The buildings of impossible railways and even more impossible bridges covering great expanses of water have caught my imagination and interest.

Inevitably too I have been taken back to the Great War, much of which I witnessed and followed as a boy, as I was born in 1929 and thus was nine years old when the war started. Having lived through Dunkirk and then the Blitz, having been alive albeit as a schoolboy, having been evacuated from one place to another, having had a string of bombs dropped within a hundred yards of my school, having watched the Nazis march through the Balkans and across North Africa, having seen the German armies storm through Russia, it has always interested me to understand just how and why it all happened.

It has interested me even more to see how the tide was turned. We all know that at the beginning of the war, the great masses in the United States of America were isolationist. The Americans were somewhat grudgingly willing to help with aid, at a price may it be said, but they were not engaged until the Japanese made their surprise and unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor two years on. This was really the turning point of the war as the mighty USA declared war both on Japan and Germany and the Allies were able to present a united front.

How was it that Germany was able to storm through the Low Countries, advance through France and take Paris within a short time, having divided up Poland with Russia for starters so to speak? Being well aware of the first Great War of 1914-18 we had expected a long drawn out battle in the trenches, similar to the previous war. This time it was Blitzkrieg, fought with incredible speed. The Germans were superior in every respect -- they were mechanised with better tanks, better guns and a better-equipped air force, both fighters and bombers. They had built up weaponry in the intervening years, while the rest of Europe danced and frittered the years away.

The factories in Germany were going full blast. After Dunkirk, England expected an invasion any day, as the country was subjected to a terrifying blitz. It was not only London that suffered, but also Liverpool and Coventry and a host of other towns and industrial targets.

The RAF held on with their Hurricanes and Spitfires, fighting a defensive battle against the marauding squadrons. There was never any doubt that man for man the British soldiers, sailors, and air crew were every bit as good as the enemy.

What made the difference? Production. As the RAF lost planes, the factories were now rolling out more planes. The pilots were there all right with immense courage, but they had to have the hardware. The Americans helped with Lend-lease, but it was not until Pearl Harbor two years later that the isolationist Americans joined in the fray.

President Roosevelt realised a sublime truth – that he needed the help of industrialists – he needed General Motors, he needed Ford and later on he needed Boeing. What was the big difference that that made? Politicians are prone to look on Big Business as a sort of milch-cow to be plundered for social reforms. President Roosevelt turned all that around, appealing above all to the profit motive. These industrialists, if they helped the war effort, could also strike it rich.

That is exactly what they did. These competitors worked together to use their expertise in production to roll out unprecedented numbers of bombers, fighters, tanks and guns. They were the experts in mass production. They realized that the key was to fix on a design and stick to it. In this way they could have production lines, using unskilled labor, but highly paid and well fed.

The tide of the war turned. Montgomery in North Africa was able to launch the Battle of El Alamein with huge resources of artillery and tanks. He had refused Churchill’s impatient urgings until he had the right equipment. What a great joy as a schoolboy it was to see Rommel, the Desert Fox, being driven all the way out of North Africa. The Americans landed in Algeria and Tunisia and it was not too long before the Germans and their Italian allies were caught in a giant pincer movement and driven out of Africa, incidentally giving relief to Malta.

It is not my purpose here to write of the military history, as anyone interested can read that. My only interest now is to point out just how great a part was played by industrialists in producing weapons and aircraft and superior bombers, not to forget ships and giant aircraft carriers. This has been bought home to me forcibly by watching ‘Yesterday’ on television. The contrast with the German war machine could not have been more stark.

Whereas the American industrialists were motivated in the first place by the profit motive, the German war machine, and indeed the Japanese war machine also, used slave labor. The Allies were outproducing the Axis, with a well-fed, well-paid work force, spurred on by feelings of patriotism. The war machine of the Axis on the other hand had turned to slave labor, with poor wages and poor food and low morale.

What does this show in a bigger context and in the context of peacetime? I will say this -- the carrot wins over the stick a thousand times. The leaders of Ford, General Motors, and Boeing got rich, but then so did millions of the middle-skilled and the completely unskilled labor make it good. If the rich prosper so also do the poor.

There is nothing better for the masses than to have rich industrialists, for they create work and can employ thousands of people. As soon as we have a socialist government, intent on bleeding the rich, what happens? The Ford works at Dagenham is an example. Unfortunately, Labour politicians rarely seem to understand economic realities and strike action has forced the closure or the reduction of many great sites. Ford at Dagenham is an example of a huge site that was decimated by the industrial strikes of the seventies. Once it produced thousands of cars -- now it is reduced to producing a few engines. Labour effectively killed off the working force, by killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

The labor movement is supposed to represent the workingman. The unfortunate truth is that the best way to help the blue-collar manual workers is by encouraging the leaders of industry to get rich. Bleeding the rich and the entrepreneurs is simply counterproductive. Why? The strong need the weak and the weak need the strong. It may seem strange, but we all need rich men, entrepreneurs, great engineers -- and nobody needs then more than the manual worker.

In the USA neither Democrats nor Republicans can avoid this simple truth, as the success of every election depends upon it. The same principle applies to the United Kingdom, as economic prosperity beats bleeding the rich every time.

Now that I am less mobile with age, I watch a fair amount of television. Since I have never been interested in or addicted to soaps, I have turned more and more to history, to ‘Yesterday’ and other programmes of that type. The buildings of impossible railways and even more impossible bridges covering great expanses of water have caught my imagination and interest.

Inevitably too I have been taken back to the Great War, much of which I witnessed and followed as a boy, as I was born in 1929 and thus was nine years old when the war started. Having lived through Dunkirk and then the Blitz, having been alive albeit as a schoolboy, having been evacuated from one place to another, having had a string of bombs dropped within a hundred yards of my school, having watched the Nazis march through the Balkans and across North Africa, having seen the German armies storm through Russia, it has always interested me to understand just how and why it all happened.

It has interested me even more to see how the tide was turned. We all know that at the beginning of the war, the great masses in the United States of America were isolationist. The Americans were somewhat grudgingly willing to help with aid, at a price may it be said, but they were not engaged until the Japanese made their surprise and unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor two years on. This was really the turning point of the war as the mighty USA declared war both on Japan and Germany and the Allies were able to present a united front.

How was it that Germany was able to storm through the Low Countries, advance through France and take Paris within a short time, having divided up Poland with Russia for starters so to speak? Being well aware of the first Great War of 1914-18 we had expected a long drawn out battle in the trenches, similar to the previous war. This time it was Blitzkrieg, fought with incredible speed. The Germans were superior in every respect -- they were mechanised with better tanks, better guns and a better-equipped air force, both fighters and bombers. They had built up weaponry in the intervening years, while the rest of Europe danced and frittered the years away.

The factories in Germany were going full blast. After Dunkirk, England expected an invasion any day, as the country was subjected to a terrifying blitz. It was not only London that suffered, but also Liverpool and Coventry and a host of other towns and industrial targets.

The RAF held on with their Hurricanes and Spitfires, fighting a defensive battle against the marauding squadrons. There was never any doubt that man for man the British soldiers, sailors, and air crew were every bit as good as the enemy.

What made the difference? Production. As the RAF lost planes, the factories were now rolling out more planes. The pilots were there all right with immense courage, but they had to have the hardware. The Americans helped with Lend-lease, but it was not until Pearl Harbor two years later that the isolationist Americans joined in the fray.

President Roosevelt realised a sublime truth – that he needed the help of industrialists – he needed General Motors, he needed Ford and later on he needed Boeing. What was the big difference that that made? Politicians are prone to look on Big Business as a sort of milch-cow to be plundered for social reforms. President Roosevelt turned all that around, appealing above all to the profit motive. These industrialists, if they helped the war effort, could also strike it rich.

That is exactly what they did. These competitors worked together to use their expertise in production to roll out unprecedented numbers of bombers, fighters, tanks and guns. They were the experts in mass production. They realized that the key was to fix on a design and stick to it. In this way they could have production lines, using unskilled labor, but highly paid and well fed.

The tide of the war turned. Montgomery in North Africa was able to launch the Battle of El Alamein with huge resources of artillery and tanks. He had refused Churchill’s impatient urgings until he had the right equipment. What a great joy as a schoolboy it was to see Rommel, the Desert Fox, being driven all the way out of North Africa. The Americans landed in Algeria and Tunisia and it was not too long before the Germans and their Italian allies were caught in a giant pincer movement and driven out of Africa, incidentally giving relief to Malta.

It is not my purpose here to write of the military history, as anyone interested can read that. My only interest now is to point out just how great a part was played by industrialists in producing weapons and aircraft and superior bombers, not to forget ships and giant aircraft carriers. This has been bought home to me forcibly by watching ‘Yesterday’ on television. The contrast with the German war machine could not have been more stark.

Whereas the American industrialists were motivated in the first place by the profit motive, the German war machine, and indeed the Japanese war machine also, used slave labor. The Allies were outproducing the Axis, with a well-fed, well-paid work force, spurred on by feelings of patriotism. The war machine of the Axis on the other hand had turned to slave labor, with poor wages and poor food and low morale.

What does this show in a bigger context and in the context of peacetime? I will say this -- the carrot wins over the stick a thousand times. The leaders of Ford, General Motors, and Boeing got rich, but then so did millions of the middle-skilled and the completely unskilled labor make it good. If the rich prosper so also do the poor.

There is nothing better for the masses than to have rich industrialists, for they create work and can employ thousands of people. As soon as we have a socialist government, intent on bleeding the rich, what happens? The Ford works at Dagenham is an example. Unfortunately, Labour politicians rarely seem to understand economic realities and strike action has forced the closure or the reduction of many great sites. Ford at Dagenham is an example of a huge site that was decimated by the industrial strikes of the seventies. Once it produced thousands of cars -- now it is reduced to producing a few engines. Labour effectively killed off the working force, by killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

The labor movement is supposed to represent the workingman. The unfortunate truth is that the best way to help the blue-collar manual workers is by encouraging the leaders of industry to get rich. Bleeding the rich and the entrepreneurs is simply counterproductive. Why? The strong need the weak and the weak need the strong. It may seem strange, but we all need rich men, entrepreneurs, great engineers -- and nobody needs then more than the manual worker.

In the USA neither Democrats nor Republicans can avoid this simple truth, as the success of every election depends upon it. The same principle applies to the United Kingdom, as economic prosperity beats bleeding the rich every time.